Paul Pogba has only shown brief glimpses of being a Manchester United player since arriving in 2016. They’ve come far and few in between, leaving so many conflicted about what he actually brings to the table.
There are regular suggestions that his qualities will come to the fore more in a better team. Whether that is true or not is anyone’s guess, but the Frenchman’s time at Old Trafford has never seemed further away from the club.
That has been the case with him ever since the summer of 2019 had dawned and the transfer window that swung open. He had gone on about him wanting a ‘new challenge’ and Mino Raiola giving his first of many interviews about the midfielder. Raiola has hardly stopped talking since then and this has become a vicious cycle. If the move doesn’t happen, the chaos will drag on, helping no-one. Pogba will remain ensnared at a place where he doesn’t belong and United will be left in limbo.
But a move will harm none of the parties, even though Pogba’s abilities can be world-class on his day. The idea of them being so ‘on his day’ is crucial due to the fact day comes about only 2-3 times in one season. It isn’t a shot aimed at Pogba, but a truth that encapsulates how the money shelled out for him hasn’t been worth it at all.
What he does off the pitch can’t be criticised unless it hints at a potential move. Pogba’s always been that free-living personality and no one should have issues with it. The English media does, but a beating stick is all they need. Even irrespective, Pogba’s hardly fulfilled what €90 million brings in the game.
The only one time he seemed to be a proper United player was during his brace against Manchester City in the 3-2 win in the 2017-18 season. While that was a reflection of what sort of a ‘leader’ he can be, the incidents against Newcastle and Tottenham suggested otherwise. That is what his career since his return to the North West has been like – flattering to deceive moments after glances of brilliance.
It is another argument where United could’ve been if he was fit this season. Without him, the season is far from over and the race for top four could potentially become a race for fifth after City’s European expulsion. On paper, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men have struggled to open up deep-blocks, but have still created the fourth-highest xG this season.
It could’ve been higher with Pogba but the truth remains that he has already ceased to be a United player. For many, he doesn’t even exist and others live in a transient bubble that will burst in the summer. xG stats and the underperformance on them show that United have missed a goalscorer more than a creator. With Bruno Fernandes in, the chance-creation will improve. With Odion Ighalo in, the conversion will get better.
One big fear that United fans have is the club’s inability to replace players. That was evident last season with Romelu Lukaku’s departure and there is anxiety that the same could happen with Pogba too. But it won’t, considering how James Maddison seems keen on a potential move and how United should recuperate what they paid for Pogba in 2016.
Having said that, Pogba’s next potential club has been suffering from a lack of creativity too. Statistically, Juventus have created lower xG than United – 42.53. Under Maurizio Sarri, they’re in transition from a team that has been playing pragmatic football to a one that has to play a brand of football that is more technical. However, they have looked more like Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve from last season – drab and dull in large parts due to lack of creativity in midfield.
Pogba adds immense technical ability and creative spark to the Bianconeri midfield, with Blaise Matuidi and Sami Khedira potentially heading out. Juve is a place that Pogba has always endeared to be at, Mino Raiola made it clear recently. He fixes their issues and wants to be there, with his agent clearly willing to take him there.
The bashing Pogba receives in England on a consistent basis has reached a point where it is now without a doubt toxic. He’s only human and deserves to live his life the way he chooses to. Pogba being active and popular on social media makes him an easy target. No one deserves to be that, especially when the real blame at Old Trafford lies in the upper reaches of the structure. Nonsensical pundits and fans have to make little effort in letting loose on him.
In Sir Alex Ferguson’s autobiography ‘Leading’, he has emphasised on how moving players on at the right time is as important as signing them. The best time to move players on is when they don’t want to play. In Pogba’s case, that should’ve happened last summer itself. But Poga’s marketability value to United makes him tough to part ways with.
The club’s ownership does take criticism for their obsession for that. But it is time to snap out of the vicious cycle once and for all. Pogba stopped being a United player many months ago. It is time to give up on hope and know that cutting ties will do good for all parties – even Juventus.
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